Archaeology Dig: Week 5 Update

Well, week 5 flew by, and really it shouldn’t have as we got rained off site several times. The weather in Ireland is exactly as they say it is–you must be prepared for all four seasons ALL the time. I’m realizing I have really crap rain gear, and as a Washingtonian, I can’t tell if that’s something I should be ashamed of, or maybe it doesn’t bother me as much at home, but nevertheless being bent over digging for hours soaking wet doesn’t make for a good day for anyone.

As far as progress, despite some sheep walking in overnight and collapsing some of our sculpted section walls (soil stratigraphy), we finished a majority of the excavation, or what we will be able to complete at this point. Some of us are still digging/cleaning for site recording, and some of us are prepping for site and elevation drawings for the final week.

Week 5 of my section in the House, coming down on rye occupation layer (under the light colored sand)

In the secondary trench, the shell midden (where I worked the 1st three weeks), Cari (PhD at UCC and an Achill supervisor) was shown a dog whelk midden near our site by some locals just casually walking the valley near our site (we get a lot of curious locals–longtime Achill residents which is sure useful for oral history!) They knew that dog whelks were once harvested for the ink they possess to make a deep “crimson purple” dye used for elite textiles and gas heard stories from previous family members. So, Cari has been happily examining and doing a plan drawing of the whelk midden (not excavating) for Achill records and for her own PhD research on middens. Goes to show that you never know who knows what—especially in small town Ireland!

Dog Whelks – image via Wikipedia

Also had to save the best for last, our greatest find yet, a beautiful nearly intact wine bottle! All the pieces were close by in the same soil layer and our director was able to get it back to the lab and tape it–and eventually glue it back together! Based on knowing that the house was from the mid 1700s and cross referencing it with a bottle register based on shapes, this bottle is from approximately 1740.

On a final note, at the end of week 4, we said good bye to four members of our troop, as they were only doing a four week session instead of the six week, so naturally, I made us all take a group photo…in the rain.

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